“There is no real excellence in all this world which can be separated from right living”
~David Starr Jordan
Before I sat down to read this book, I believed that habits come from within and no one can change your outlook towards life or towards success or even towards what you do on a day-to-day basis. I never thought that as human beings we have the potential to shift our paradigms and look at things in a broader and more enlightened perspective. I believed in the single story, the stereotypes, the ingrained and deep-seated notions that we have about a certain person or a certain place which cannot be altered or be seen in any other way. I believed in seeing the world as I wanted to see it and not as it really is.
This book that has sold over 10 million copies shows powerful lessons that we can adapt for our own personal changes. Lessons that can make us less judgmental, lessons that can make us relate to people of all calibers, lessons that can shape our lives. Apart from the Quran; which to me is the most incredible scripture in the universe with guidelines and lessons that I adapt in my life, The Ahadith of our beloved prophet and the scholarly articles about Islam, this book comes next. It has transformed my mindset and has given me the ability to appreciate people as they are; and this has formed a large portion of my happiness of late.
- Be Proactive
This is the habit of personal responsibility. The ability to carry your own weather, to be free to choose and realize that you are the master of your own soul and just like sunshine, you carry your own beams of joy and glee. This is basically remaining calm at all times, taking responsibility, thinking before you act, focusing on solutions and taking the initiative to make things happen.
Usually we are the determinants of our happiness.
That everlasting satisfaction; like a refreshing stream, flowing from heart to heart in endless circulation.
And you may be wondering why- and I can tell you in just 2 words.
Stimulus and Response.
If someone stimulates us in any form; we have the freedom to choose how we want to respond in that circumstance.
But the happiest people choose to respond proactively.
- Begin with the end in mind
This is the habit of personal vision. If you have a CLEAR purpose in life, you are set to go. You can easily define outcomes before you act, you can easily calculate your risks before you proceed in any undertaking. You are not a river that just flows; you are a human being with an ability to think, to calculate, to research and to compel. If you do not sit down with a clear agenda, with well-researched market specifications, with a goal and a personal mission statement that you have written for yourself to guide you in leaving an excellent legacy then you cannot have productivity or a life of contribution, contentment and even impact.
“It’s incredibly easy to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success, only to discover that it’s leaning against the wrong wall”
- Put First Things First
This is the habit of personal management. Usually you like spending your time on what is most urgent, trying to do it all, planning intermittently and giving in to the pressures of the moment; what Tim Urban, TED Talk defined as the ‘Panic Monster’. You fail in focusing on your highest priorities, eliminating the inconsequential, planning weekly and staying true in the moment of choice. This can be explained using the ‘Time Matrix’- (check out on the net).
“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”
- Think Win-Win
This is the habit of mutual benefit. Effective people carry with them the ‘Abundance Mentality’, which is where you believe that there is enough out there for everyone and even more to spare. To be effective, you have to consider other people’s wins, balance on consideration and courage and believe that it not about my way, it is not about your way but it’s about our way; which is the better way.
“Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-win is based on the paradigm that there is plenty for everybody -that one person’s success is not achieved at the expense of others.”
- Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood
This is the habit of empathic communication. It is believed that you have a larger influence on people if you understand their points of view, if you practice empathic listening (listening with the intent to understand someone else within their frame of reference) and not autobiographical listening (listening with the intent to filter what others are saying through your own experiences and beliefs) and if you respectfully seek to be understood.
“When you really listen to another person from their point of view, and reflect back to them that understanding, it’s like giving them emotional oxygen”.
This is the habit of creative cooperation. Synergizing entails valuing differences, creatively solving complex problems as us and not as you, seeking for the 3rd alternative and never compromising. With synergy, you can build on your strengths and the strengths of others, you can build fantastic solutions to endless worldly problems and you can encourage wild ideas.
With synergy, we believe that 1+1= 100; we see the other picture. We tear up our boxes and move mountains with our hands.
“Synergy is what happens when one plus one equals ten, or a hundred, or even a thousand!…it’s about the passion, the energy, the ingenuity, the excitement of creating a new reality that is better than the old reality.”
- Sharpen the Saw
This is the habit of daily self-renewal. It is taking the time for yourself every day because it gives you the ability to do everything else, it is investing on yourself. The four dimensions of renewal are the body, the heart, the mind and the spirit.
You can invest on your body by exercising, taking rest, managing your stress, taking good and healthy food, doing yoga among others.
You can invest on your heart by consistently depositing on your emotional bank account. Who do you want to please? Which are your key relationships? It is baseless to have personality ethics and lack character ethics. It is unsubstantiated to have so much money yet so sick in your relationship with your inner circle.
Your mind can always remain positive through reading, writing, studying, listening to TED talks among others. Last but not least is the spirit which can be developed through service to the people, values clarification, inspirational literature, meditation and nature.
“Living the 7 Habits requires us to learn, commit, and do on increasingly higher planes. We deceive ourselves if we think any one of these is sufficient. To keep progressing, we must learn, commit, and do-learn, commit, and do- and learn, commit, and do again.”